For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been studying Spanish at La Escuela Cooperativa. It’s a school in the traditional part of town, with a beautiful garden, lovingly kept by their gardener who has created it by hand over the last 10 years.
I think it seems a very good idea (if not essential) to do some kind of Spanish lessons before visiting Latin America. We’ve met some people who don’t speak any, and I kind of think they are really missing out on at least basically communicating with the locals.
That said, it’s been incredibly difficult and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling that my brain is melting. My expectations were pretty high and I expected to be fluent by now – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! I can however now understand a lot more of what people are saying to me and can hold a basic conversation as long as someone is ok talking to me in the present tense.
The lessons contain a large amount of grammar, followed by several exercises, games in Spanish, conversation with my maestra (teacher) and quite a large amount of homework. Her name was Josepha and she was a lovely yet traditional lady, with a passionate loathing for Lady Gaga and whose stoney face at my terrible accent turned me instantly into a quivering school girl once again. The conversations were much less scary though and she told me a lot about the culture and lifestyle in San Pedro.
We also stayed with a local family in the first week and that is something I also really recommend. It’s intense, especially if like me you are a beginner at Spanish, as all conversation is in Spanish and it means having the think a lot at all times, but I learnt so much through this and the family were so welcoming and kind. They spoke no English except for occasionally breaking into the odd ABBA song over lunch, which was served by the mama, Maria who is an incredible cook. I have never eaten so well. This is a reason in itself to do it!!
I think I’d recommend La Escuela Cooperativa if anyone is heading to San Pedro. The activities are a bit lame, but the environment is beautiful and meeting the other students was a treat.
(More photos to come when I’m near an actual computer)